Haunted by terrifying nightmares and a mysterious prophecy, a young man embarks on a 3,000-mile trek through the African bush. This is a ghost story–it’s about that rumble in your stomach when adrenaline surges. It’s that feeling you get when you stand in the dark and hear an animal growling from only feet away, or sense there’s someone else in a gloomy room. Although this fictional story has characters that are Maasai, it’s not about their culture as much as a web that several Maasai and a Seer get drawn into, along with several travelers. Start reading, and you’ll never look at Africa the same again.
Have you ever considered a 3,000-mile trek across the African bush? Transform your ideas about the Maasai and Africa as you get lost in the story of ‘The Light Behind Blue Circles’ with author Robert Louis DeMayo and I in today’s author interview. Robert, I have feeling that’s there’s a great story behind this book, so can you tell us how your life led you to write this book?
In my twenties I completed four overland journeys in Africa, crossing over 10,000 miles mostly on dirt roads. I’m not a character in this story, but I waited for years to use some of the experiences in a novel, and saw this story as my chance. From Victoria Falls at night during a lunar rainbow to the great African savannah stampeding with wildebeest to the evocative Serengeti with Mt. Kilimanjaro rising with the dawn, The Light Behind Blue Circles captures some of Africa’s most iconic scenery.
You must have a wealth of stories to share from four overland journeys of Africa. How did your experiences from this time influence this book?
I based out of Nairobi for a short time, and got to know some traditional dancers. Often we would sit around trading tales, and I noticed they loved ghost stories. When I set out to write a novel about an overland journey, a ghost story slowly took it over–I’m sure because of the influence of my Nairobi friends.
Will readers meet characters based on your Nairobi friends in this book?
Yes, most were based on people I met when completing four six-months trips to East and southern Africa.
What were the most important ideas that you wanted to share through this book?
I wanted to convey that rumble in my stomach that I felt when I traveled through Africa. I wanted the reader to feel the fear and excitement that seemed to live within me, be it when climbing a mountain (8-pitch climb up Mt. Kenya, first time in a climbing harness), being chased by a bull elephant on foot, or sneaking up and touching a kudu at night.
Do you feel that these experiences of fear, excitement and more are still relevant to readers today?
It takes place in the early 90s, so there are a lot of situations where a cell phone may have helped, but there were none.
How did you end up being a writer from those overland journeys in Africa?
I went to school for bio-medical engineering, with the intension of working in my father’s business in New England. Unfortunately, when I began working in hospitals I found I didn’t like it (at all) and quit and hit the road. I had no money, and within a month of landing in Europe I ran out of money. I found odd jobs, and kept traveling. That first time I left home I was gone 18 months and crossed 40 countries. The entire time I tried to figure out what I was going to do with my life, and only near the end did I realize that I was writing in my journals at least 6 hours a day. When I returned I became a journalist, writing for the Telegraph for almost 15 years. I’ve just recently published my 6th novel, and collectively have won 7 national awards.
So you learned to write as you travelled?
Yes, on the road.
What kind of responses have you received readers of this book?
It’s a ghost story, so there’s almost always going to be something violent in the beginning. Once past that, the story picks up as the main character slowly travels from South Africa to Kenya. When that happens, just about everyone that read it told me they couldn’t put it down.
How have you built the skills to write something that people can’t put down?
For ten years I’ve worked with a top-notch editor. She’s ruthless at times, but very astute. She is female, a professional journalist, and very different from me so it’s perfect.
I hope that you’ve allowed her to be ruthless with some new work. Can we look forward to seeing a new book from your pen soon?
I’ve just published a historical mystery called The Sirens of Oak Creek. The novel is comprised of four connected books that all take place in Oak Creek canyon (by Sedona) in four different times. It is told through the eyes of eight different women. This story has already won three national awards.
Congratulations on the awards, with such positive recognition already I’m going to have to check it out. Robert, thank you for sharing a taste of Africa with readers and myself today, and I hope to hear more about your mysterious tales soon.
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘The Light Behind Blue Circles ( ASIN: B00A9YX2FC )‘.
Want to find out more about Robert Louis DeMayo? Connect here!